Observing a Changing World

May 13, 2021

Spring is blossoming. I am more acutely aware of the smells, the sounds and sights of spring this year. My senses have sharpened after a quiet winter. The flurry of school activities and holiday parties that usually dominate the winter season were replaced by longer afternoons under a warm blanket on the couch with my family, slower dinners with more chatter and laughter. The air is warmer, the trees are budding and flowers are growing wild on the green hills. Signs of renewal are evident in nature, but this year, renewal has a personal meaning. Many of us have been vaccinated and are able to hug a friend or relative after a long time, go out to dinner, perhaps even take a flight to see a loved one. Children are returning back to their classrooms and there is hope that a vaccination may protect all our children soon.

Perhaps the sweetest sign of spring's renewal is in my backyard. A hummingbird mama has built a perfect little nest in our dwarf guava tree. I watched as she carefully, diligently crafted a sturdy nest complete with a soft white cushion made of spider webs to cradle her two eggs, the size of jelly beans. The babies are born and each day mama and papa fly in hourly to feed and care for their young. My kids, my husband and my mother who was visiting for the last month have been wrapped up in looking over the babies. I find myself checking on 'the babies' much more often than I check my phone. It is fascinating to see two tiny lives surviving this big world daily. And yet the miracle is happening before my eyes. It is a solace that life does renew in the wake of the tragedies we are witnessing on our planet.

When I sit to contemplate how much the world has endured in the last year, I am overwhelmed. In a short period of time (15-16 months) our lives have been transformed. We marched on adjusting to our new reality, but what toll has that taken on us? Just as we may begin to come to a place of hope and healing, we are rocked by the reality on the other side of the globe. If anything, COVID has taught us that we are more connected than we realized. How do we balance our new found freedoms when so many are suffering on the other side of the world? In the news coming daily from India, we are reminded that freedom and life can quickly be taken away. For me, fear and sadness hang like a sheer curtain over my heart. I find joy and comfort in spending time with loved ones, but I have not fully embraced a sense of being carefree and I fear I may not know that feeling again soon. How do we manage the complexity of our emotions in this in-between place? How do we ease the discomfort of unknowing in our hearts?

The practice of Yoga is my answer. In my practice, I learn to sit quietly with my discomfort. Without judgment, without answers, I acknowledge each emotion, experience, thought. An active practice is helpful to train the mind and body to observe the self. Standing on my mat in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), I feel my feet on the earth, reaching my hips back into Adho Mukha Savana (downdog), I notice the flow of breath changing, holding Chaturanga Dandasana for an extra beat I observe discomfort. Discomfort is not pain; it is being uncomfortable in a situation. Through the vessel of our physical bodies we fine tune our ability to observe. If I can observe my feet, I have hope of observing my thoughts.

I have been reading a chapter of the Bhagavad Gita daily as well. This verse spoke to me:

“The nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.”

Is it possible to observe our ever changing the world the same way we observe the change of seasons? Can we let go of our attachment of what we look toward and live in contentment with what is?  I know it will take me a lifetime, or more. I'll start on my mat.

I will leave you with a picture of newborn hummingbirds. Sending love to each one of you,